Iran's Ahmadinejad to Seek Second Term, Adviser Says

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By Thomas Erdbrink
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, January 29, 2009

TEHRAN, Jan. 28 -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will run for a second term, his press adviser said Wednesday.

Although the president has not formally announced his candidacy for the June 12 elections, the adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, told The Washington Post that Ahmadinejad will "definitely become a candidate."

Analysts in the United States have said that the Obama administration is considering postponing proposed direct talks with Iran and awaiting the outcome of the country's presidential election.

Ahmadinejad has strongly defended Iran's nuclear program, saying it is aimed at meeting civilian energy needs. During an interview with al-Arabiya television Monday, President Obama warned that pursuit of a nuclear weapon by Iran was "not conducive to peace."

On Tuesday, Iran's top military commander, Maj. Gen. Hasan Firuzabadi, spoke openly in support of Ahmadinejad. "The Ahmadinejad administration showed that the presidency and the great potential of the position require a lot of energy and competence," Firuzabadi said. "The presidency is not for old, retired people."

The only candidate who has registered to run is 71-year-old cleric Mehdi Karroubi, who has criticized several current government policies. Karroubi finished third in the 2005 presidential election.

Another possible contender is former president Mohammad Khatami, 65, who tried to modernize Iran's political system but was opposed by several of the country's powerful unelected institutions. Khatami recently met with Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to discuss his possible candidacy. The deadline for registering has not been set.

Ahmadinejad, 52, is rumored to be in poor health, but Javanfekr confirmed that the president is determined to complete several controversial economic revisions started by his administration.

This month, the government proposed legislation that, if passed by parliament, would drastically reduce the state subsidies keeping energy prices artificially low.

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